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working with people who demean their colleagues

A while back I read The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilised Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t

Back then I was in daily contact with someone who could have been the inspiration for Sutton’s book. Some of you will have had your ears bent about that delightful situation.

I’m far luckier in my working environment these days. My current boss and colleagues are all pretty much universally supportive, considerate and rational.

Occasionally I still encounter less pleasant folks but they are mostly at arms length which makes them far easier to deal with.  My most recent encounter sent me back to my book shelves to read Sutton’s book.

The book makes a distinction between people who demean others and people who are constructively argumentative and challenging.  Sutton describes two tests for spotting the former:

  • Test One: Does the ‘target’ feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energised, or belittled by the person? In particular, does the target feel worse about him or herself?
  • Test Two: Is the venom aimed at people who are less powerful rather than at those people who are more powerful?

Sutton argues that the bullies cause obvious damage to their immediate targets but they also damage bystanders, themselves and the organisation.

There’s a good section in the book called “Teach People How to Fight”.

I’ve been struck that through bullying these individuals can control what people do but they can’t control what people keep from them. No-one is going to voluntarily help them out.  People will let them shoot themselves in the foot.

Written by Karen

August 5th, 2010 at 6:27 am